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Fillmore East, New York Two Shows Prior to their two concerts later that evening, Hendrix and his Band Of Gypsys held an afternoon sound check and rehearsal at the Fillmore East. Later that evening, before a sold out crowd of 2,639, Hendrix rang in the New Year and new decade with two unforgettable performances. The evening’s festivities opened with a spirited set by the Voices Of East Harlem, an enthusiastic young gospel ensemble. With the anticipation of the sold out Fillmore audience heightened to fever pitch, Hendrix led his trio through a scintillating, seventy-five minute opening performance. None of the eleven songs presented had yet to grace an Experience album. In the place of signature songs like “Purple Haze” and “All Along The Watchtower” were confident renditions of “Izabella” and “Hear My Train A Comin’”. At midnight, Kip Cohen, the venue’s master of ceremonies, rang in the new year and decade buffeted by Guy Lombardo’s “Auld Lang Syne”. Never one to be upstaged, Jimi and company greeted the joyous house with their own inspired reading of the holiday staple. For Amalie Rothschild, the Fillmore East’s house photographer, the experience was an unforgettable one. “Then there was the countdown at midnight. It was the countdown that was a real scream. We’re talking about the end of the Sixties. December 31, 1969 turning into January 1, 1970–.A new decade. This was significant. After all, we were living through it and we knew that the Sixties were the Sixties. We had this big countdown on the [Joshua White] light show screen with this big clock 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…and everybody is yelling together. Then the light show screen pulls up and everybody is on stage–all the crew and the musicians. Hendrix, who is now on stage, launches into this amazing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and I filmed it [excerpts of Rothschild’s color film footage can be seen in the VHS/DVD Band Of Gypsys]. This was history in the making. You could not miss this. His performance was just so inspired. It was just terrific and I can’t find the words to describe it.” The recordings which make up both Band Of Gypsys and its two disc sequel Live At The Fillmore East certainly bear out Rothschild’s remembrances. Jimi’s celebrated work with the Band Of Gypsys stands among his most impressive and lasting achievements. After the show, Ian Dove of Record Mirror interviewed Jimi Hendrix for the January 10, 1970 edition of the British paper. Later that night, Hendrix retreated to The Café Caliph (previously known as The Café Au Go Go) in Greenwich Village where he joined The James Cotton Blues Band on stage for a jam.
Fillmore East, New York Two Shows Dawn had arisen over Manhattan by the time the group finally left the venue in the early morning hours of January 1. Incredibly, they returned later on this evening to perform two additional concerts. With the hoopla of the New Year’s Eve festivities behind him, Hendrix centered his attention on realizing a live album from the remaining two performances. Desperate to absolve himself of the bitter legalities, which had hounded him since his return to the United States in June 1967, Hendrix rallied and gave two of the finest performances of his storied career. As the Fillmore audience roared with approval, the Band Of Gypsys left the stage confident that they had validated Jimi’s new music before his loyal followers. “We felt the concerts went well,” remembers Billy Cox. “We felt good doing them and Jimi did all of his powerful techniques he could think of. Then one show he just stayed there and got into it so heavy it was incredible. There were people in the audience with their mouths open.” “His playing is so loud, so fluid and so rife with electronic distortions that it resembles that of no other currently popular performer,” reported Mike Jahn for The New York Times (January 2, 1970). Lead guitarist Jimi Hendrix was once again joined on stage by bassist, Billy Cox and drummer, Buddy Miles for their new collaboration of roaming and experimental sounds. Secure in his standing, Hendrix was comfortable with the Fillmore crowd. During the fourth and final Fillmore concert, the guitarist made light of the group’s limited repertoire immediately prior to the start of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. On another occasion earlier that evening, he even offered his congratulations to the victorious USC Trojans, winners of the Rose Bowl that afternoon. “Jimi enjoyed doing those shows,” explains Billy Cox. “He was enjoying himself because he had complete freedom and freedom is a joyous thing when you’ve got it. We didn’t have any worries about what we could or couldn’t do. These were our first shows. We were pretty rebellious at that age. I guess that’s why we played the music so loud. He didn’t have any restrictions and that is a lot of freedom. You can hear that on every song we played. After the shows were finished, Jimi was quite relieved. He had fulfilled his obligation and was getting this whole [situation] off his back.”
Having just successfully completed two sold out performances at the Fillmore East, the previous night, the Band of Gypsys New Year’s Day performances were solidifying them as one of the most recognizable sounds in modern music. Just as with the two shows the preceding night Wally Heider and Eddie Kramer also recorded this performance. The results of which have been released as Band Of Gypsys (Experience Hendrix/Capitol Records, 93446-2) and Hendrix: Live At The Fillmore East (Experience Hendrix/MCA, MCAD2-1111931).
As the Band Of Gypsys hit the stage the crowd explodes into applause as the three neighborly musicians break into a barrage of musical attacks, bouncing melodic beats of musical affection off each other. The mesmerizing opening statements of the newly formed Band of Gypsys implanted a new brand of funky rock-inspired blues in the audience’s head.
“His playing is so loud, so fluid and so rife with electronic distortions that it resembles that of no other currently popular performer,” reported Mike Jahn for The New York Times (January 2, 1970). Lead guitarist Jimi Hendrix was once again joined on stage by bassist, Billy Cox and drummer, Buddy Miles for their new collaboration of roaming and experimental sounds.
The Band Of Gypsys first set featured performances of “Who Knows,” “Machine Gun,” “Changes,” “Power Of Soul,” “Stepping Stone,” “Foxey Lady,” “Stop,” “Hear My Train A Comin’,” “Earth Blues,” and “Burning Desire.”
As Rolling Stones’ Loraine Alterman reported, “at the first show on New Year’s Day, the audience really let loose with cheers only on the old “Foxey Lady.” In all fairness, however, his second show reportedly went over much better especially when he and Miles sand a pleas for unity about how we’ve all got to live together, a song did together in a jam at the Newport ’69 festival in Los Angeles.
“In the end, though, Hendrix is a musician, not a contortionist or juggler. If the fans can forget the visual show and if Hendrix can come up with a new approach to material for a Band Of Gypsys, he’ll remain a heavy on the scene.”
After a brief intermission the Band Of Gypsys returned for a second set highlighted with “Stone Free,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Power Of Soul,” “Changes,” “Message To Love,” “Earth Blues,” “Machine Gun,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “We Gotta Live Together,” “Wild Thing,” “Hey Joe,” and “Purple Haze.”
Alfred Aronowitz of The New York Post interviews Hendrix for a piece in the January 2, 1970 edition. Inside Aronowitz explains Hendrix’s musical change saying, “Jimi had chosen the New Year, and as he put it, the new decade to unveil his new trio… What’s the reason for the change? ‘Earth, man, earth,’ Jimi said. With his old group, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the music has been too far out in space. ‘Now I want to bring it down to earth,’ Jimi said. ‘I want to get back to the blues, because that’s what I am.’ The new group has a new repertoire, but during his first set last night, Jimi was still waving his freak flag.
“There had been plans for Jimi to go back on tour with The Experience accompanied once again by Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, but after the show Jimi had changed his mind. ‘With Mitch, maybe, but not with Noel, for sure.’ He said. ‘That’s another thing. This is more of a real thing. We’re trying to get it on its feet. We’re waiting for Stevie Winwood. If I can get ahold of him and he agrees to it, that’ll be another voice. We’ll have harmony for days.’ The name of Jimi’s new group, incidentally, is A Band Of Gypsys. ‘That’s what we are,’ said Buddy. ‘That’s what all musicians are, Gypsies.'”
1970 Alfred Aronowitz Band of Gypsys Changes Earth Blues eddie kramer Fillmore East hey joe jan January 1 Little Drummer Boy Live Machine Gun Message To Love new years day performance Power Of Soul Purple Haze Stone Free The New York Post Voodoo Child (Slight Return) Wally Heider We Gotta Live Together Wild Thing
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording Jimi and engineer Eddie Kramer begin sifting through the multi-track recordings made of the Band Of Gypsys live performances at the Fillmore East.
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording Mixing sessions for what would become Band Of Gypsys continue at Juggy Sound, the midtown Manhattan recording facility owned by Sue Records chief Juggy Murray.
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording Once more, Jimi began the evening with Eddie Kramer mixing potential candidates for the Band Of Gypsys live album at Juggy Sound. Neither Cox nor Miles played any role in the mixing or track decisions for the album. As Hendrix was the producer, such decisions were reserved entirely for him. Record Plant, New York Studio Recording Burning Desire Backwards Experiment At the Record Plant with Cox and Miles, Hendrix devoted time on this evening to experimenting with different backward guitar effects. This session also saw additional work on “Burning Desire” but with little noticeable progress toward the completion of a basic track.
Madison Square Garden, N.Y. As spirited as the Fillmore concerts may have been, the resurrection of the Jimi Hendrix Experience became the immediate priority of Jimi’s management. This became increasingly so in the aftermath of a failed January 28, 1970 Band Of Gypsys gig at Madison Square Garden. The Winter Carnival For Peace was an event organized by promoter Sid Bernstein. The concert was a nonprofit benefit to raise money for the Moratorium Fund, an antiwar effort. Joining Hendrix and the Band Of Gypsys on the bill were such diverse acts as the Rascals, Harry Belefonte, and the cast of Hair. Jimi’s performance began shortly after 3 a.m. He lurched miserably through two songs “Who Knows” and “Earth Blues” before he sat down on the stage and refused to continue. Buddy Miles tried to mollify the confused audience, pleading for their patience but Hendrix refused to continue. Miles petitioned the crowd to allow Hendrix time to regroup but Jimi unplugged his guitar and disappeared backstage. The group’s aborted performance left a bitter taste for Hendrix, Cox, and Miles and the three parted company immediately afterwards. Jimi described the scene a few days after concert to Rolling Stone’s John Burks. “It’s like the end of the beginning or something,” explained Hendrix. “I figure that Madison Square Garden is like the end of a big long fairy tale. Which is great. I think it’s like the best ending I could possibly have come up with. The Band Of Gypsys were out of sight as far as I’m concerned. It was just…going through head changes is what it was. I couldn’t really tell. I was very tired. You know, sometimes there’s a lot of things that add up in your head about this or that and they might hit you at a very peculiar time, which happened to be at a peace rally. Here I’d been fighting the biggest war I ever fought. In my life. Inside, you know? And like that wasn’t the place to do it.”
Billed as the “Winter Festival For Peace,” Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) and Sid Bernstein, event producers, announced that their services would be donated and that all proceeds of the event will go to the Vietnam Moratorium effort. The five-hour festival slated from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. will feature Harry Belafonte; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Dave Brubeck; Richie Havens; Mother Earth; Peter, Paul & Mary; The Rascals; The Cast of Hair; Judy Collins, and Jimi Hendrix & his Band Of Gypsys.
Suffering from exhaustion and the effects of a drink laced with an unknown substance taken before the show, Hendrix failed to execute his musical plans this evening. Having completed just two songs, “Who Knows” and “Earth Blues” the only thing Hendrix could do at that point was drop his guitar and sit down on the stage, meanwhile Miles and Cox continue to roll through the back beats. As Alfred Aronowitz later recalled in his New York Post column, “The crowd has already gotten twice its money’s worth when Jimi Hendrix stopped playing in the middle of his second number, said ‘That’s what happens when Earth ***** with Space, never forget that, that’s what happens.'” … “Jimi got up, put his guitar down and walked offstage.”
“When he came off stage,” explained Alan Douglas “he actually fell off the apron. At first I thought he was hurt, but he wasn’t. I then ran backstage to the dressing room to see if in fact he was okay. There he was sitting playing the guitar and smiling. I don’t know what went through his mind when he was on stage, but the first thing I noticed, it looked like he was having a big rhythm problem. I think he just got fed up.”
Backstage, Jimi meets Johnny Winter. In recounting the meeting Winter explains, “I saw Jimi backstage at the Madison Square Garden concert, the one where he just couldn’t play. When I saw him, it have me chills. It was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen. He came in with this entourage of people, and it was like he was already dead. He just walked in – and even though Jimi and I weren’t the greatest of friends, we always talked, always – and he came in with his head down, sat on the couch alone, and put his head in his hands. He didn’t say a word to anybody, and no one spoke to him. He didn’t move until it was time for the show. He really wanted to do that gig, but he never should have. It wasn’t that it was bad, but his whole thing was inspiration, and there wasn’t any. It was just completely uninspired; finally, right in the middle of a song, he just took his guitar off, sat on the stage – the band was still playing – and told the audience, “I’m sorry, we just can’t get it together.” One of his people said he was sick, and lead him off stage. He was just so unhappy that there was no way that he could play the show. It didn’t have anything to do with the group – he had already died!”
1970 Band of Gypsys Blood Dave Brubeck eter Events Harry Belafonte January 28 Jimi Hendrix Johnny Winte Judy Collins Madison Square Garden Mother Earth. Paul & Mary Peter Yarrow Richie Havens Sid Bernstein Sweat & Tears The Cast of Hair The Rascals Vietnam Moratorium Winter Festival For Peace
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording Mixing sessions for Band Of Gypsys resumed. Before the evening session began, Hendrix engaged in a jam session with the Rosicrucians, a Queens-based group whose album Eddie Kramer had been producing at the studio. Two separate recordings were made before Hendrix concluded the jam.
While Hendrix and Eddie Kramer were taking a break from a mixing session for Band Of Gypsys at New York’s Juggy Sound, Jimi joins Rosicrucians, a Queens-based band that Kramer was producing, for a casual jam session.
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording In the early morning hours of February 5, Jimi returned to Juggy Sound as mixing sessions for Band Of Gypsys continued. By this stage, final mixes for “Who Knows” and “Machine Gun” had been crafted and set aside. Hendrix had completed the album’s first side and now focused his energies on completing side two. Among the songs mixed by Hendrix and Kramer but not selected for the album were “Stone Free” [1/1/70 2nd Show] and “Hear My Train A Comin’” [12/31/69 1st Show]
Record Plant, New York Studio Recording A mixing session dedicated to the Band Of Gypsys studio recording of “Izabella.”
During a mixing session for Band Of Gypsys at the Record Plant, Dave Ragno and Bob Hughes joined Hendrix for the completion of a rough mix of “Izabella.”
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording Hendrix and Eddie Kramer continued final editing and mixing of the Band Of Gypsys album at Juggy Sound. Record Plant, New York Studio Recording Following his session at Juggy, Hendrix went to the Record Plant where a master mix for “Sky Blues Today” was achieved during this Record Plant. This master, later retitled “Stepping Stone” by the guitarist, was coupled with February 12 master of “Izabella” and would be released on April 13, 1970 as a Reprise Records single.
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording Hendrix and Eddie Kramer completed the final editing, mixing, and sequencing for the Band Of Gypsys album.
Sterling Sound, New York Studio Recording Hendrix and Kramer team with mastering engineer Bob Ludwig to supervise the final mastering for Band Of Gypsys. In light of his disappointment with the mastering of Electric Ladyland by Reprise Records, Hendrix opts to work independently to insure that the final sound quality meets his satisfaction.
Sterling Sound, New York Studio Recording After reviewing test pressings of the mastering efforts of the previous day, some minor sonic adjustments are completed.
Hendrix manager Michael Jeffery delivered the completed Band Of Gypsys release to Capitol Records.
On the heels of Hendrix delivering the completed Band Of Gypsys release to Capitol Records on February 25, 1970, the label quickly jumped into the mastering stage for the record, ensuring its speedy delivery to store shelves.
Capitol Records released the eagerly anticipated live album, Band Of Gypsys. The album featured six tracks from the two Fillmore East performances on January 1, 1970. “Who Knows” and “Machine Gun,” were recorded during the evening’s first while all of the album’s second side was drawn from the second show. Despite the dramatic shift in sound and style—especially when compared with Electric Ladyland–Band Of Gypsys nonetheless enjoyed wide commercial approval. The album debuted on Billboard’s US Top 200 chart at 18 and climbed to its peak at 5. The album remained on the chart for sixty-one weeks. At the time of Jimi’s death, Band Of Gypsys was Hendrix’s most commercially successful album since Are You Experienced, his 1967 debut.
With Band Of Gypsys riding high in the Billboard US album chart, Reprise Records issued the single “Stepping Stone” coupled with “Izabella”. Apart from “All Along The Watchtower”, Jimi had little success at US Top 40 radio. “Stepping Stone” and “Izabella” proved to be no exception. Moreover, Capitol Records complained that Reprise was trying to distract consumers from Band Of Gypsys. As the delivery of that album had resolved a bitter lawsuit between Hendrix, Capitol, and Reprise, the single quickly faded from view and has since become a prized collector’s item. For those unable to track down an original vinyl copy, both versions can now be heard as part of the Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection issued in May 2001.
Track Records releases Band Of Gypsys (2406 002) in the UK. Just like its American predecessor, Band Of Gypsys features “Who Knows,” “Machine Gun,” “Changes,” “Power To Love,” “Message To Love,” and “We Gotta Live Together.”